Are Pugs Tails Docked? Why It Needs To Be Avoided!

Pugs have unique tails that curls up to look like a traditional cinnamon roll that you could pick up at a bakery. Their tail appears shorter than most other canine breeds, but is this due to human intervention? Or have pugs been bred to naturally have their tails look like this?

Tail docking is not a common practice amongst pugs. The surgical removal of a portion of a dog’s tail is usually done for cosmetic reasons, and is largely considered unethical. Many believe this practice should be avoided since tails are essential communication devices for dogs.

Not only is cropping a pug’s tail considered to be cruel, but it can also have some long term negative consequences. However, there can be some instances where a veterinarian may recommend the procedure for the better well being of the dog. Here’s everything you need to know about tail docking.

The Infamous History Of Tail Docking

Tail docking has been practiced for thousands of years. The ancient Romans practiced the act of removing a dog’s tail in order to protect them from contracting or spreading rabies. This has since been proven to be a myth, since rabies has been found to be transmitted through the bites of infected animals.

Tail docking was also performed by the Romans and other civilizations in the past for the purpose of fighting. It was thought to enhance a bait canines’ agility and ability to avoid tail injuries, since it wasn’t there to be latched onto.

Puritans in the United States held even stranger views on unbroken trails. They believed evil energies possessed the tails of a dog, so cutting them off was a way to save the dog and others around them. People chopped off dogs’ tails in 18th-century England to distinguish hunting and working animals from pets. Helpers of hunting or working dogs who did not have their dogs docked were fined at the time.

In more recent times, tail docking was massively popularized in the late nineteenth century by a famous book called “The American Book of the Dog”. It suggested that dogs looked more appropriate with their tails cut off. Oh, how far we’ve come since then!

Why Practice Tail Docking?

People nowadays clip their dogs’ tails for four main reasons: to comply with breed standards, for hygienic reasons, to safeguard the dog from injury, and for fashion purposes. Around 60+ dog breeds are customarily chopped off some few days after birth. Every breed has its own set of rules for how long the tail should be.

Owners of long-haired dog breeds may prefer to dock their tails in order to prevent a build-up of feces in their hind end. This reduces matting and it also makes the cleanup process easier. Others prefer to remove the tails of industrial breeds to avoid burrs and briars from becoming lodged in the fur and harming the animal.

Unfortunately, some people decide to chop off a dog’s tail simply for cosmetic reasons. It’s the same reason why they may decide to trim the ears of a dog. Pug tails come in all sorts of styles. Several have a tight curl, while others are considerably looser, with almost no curl at all.

Most pugs have been bred to have highly curled tails, with breeding standards glorifying a double curl. If the Pug doesn’t seem to have a regular tail, it could be dealing with a screw tail, also called an ingrown tail. Pugs with such a problem often have a much less distinct tail than animals who aren’t affected. Surgery is frequently required to treat this.

The RSPCA opposes ornamental dog’s tail docking because it is needless and the practice endangers the wellbeing of the animal. Non-therapeutic reasons for tail docking were outlawed in 2004 in countries such as Australia. Since then, it’s been against the law to dock a dog’s tails unless there is a veterinarian medical cause for doing so.

Only trained veterinarians are allowed to perform the surgery. However, before this prohibition, anyone classed as an “experienced breeder” could do it. All formerly docked species can now participate at dog shows with their complete tails. Therefore, there’s no need to dock a dog’s tail unless it was born before 2004 or has been harmed somehow. Unfortunately, various breeders and physicians still advise tail docking for aesthetic purposes.

The Cruel Practice Of Tail Docking

A puppy’s neural system is believed by tail docking supporters to not be fully formed during the first few days after birth. As a result, these people argue that it causes no discomfort or pain to the dog. This is far from the truth, as a dog’s basic neurological system is wholly established when born.

Evidence suggests that puppies and adult dogs are equally sensitive to pain. Slicing through tendons muscles, up to 7 pairs of susceptible nerves, removing cartilage, and bone connections are all involved in docking a puppy’s tail. Tail docking is commonly performed without anesthesia or analgesia, the pain relief.

Puppies make repeated screeching vocalizations when their tails are chopped off and when the incision is stitched, showing that they are in complete agony. While the incision heals, tissue damage and inflammation create persistent pain. This unnecessary procedure also comes with the danger of infection and other consequences.

Tail docking can also cause a dog to suffer from unwanted and unnecessary long-term chronic discomfort and anguish. For instance, when a persistent neuroma arises at the resection site, it will be excruciatingly painful.

Tails Act As Essential Communication Devices

The tail of a dog plays a crucial function in dog social behavior. Dogs like the pug use their tails to communicate with one another. The location and movement of the tail might signal friendliness, a warning signal, a passion for playing, subjugation, among several other messages.

The tail has multiple purposes and you can see why it’s such an important part of their anatomy. It acts as a protection system for dogs, since it allows them to communicate and establish boundaries. Usually, it’s the first sign to look at when averting confrontational encounters.

During human-dog encounters, the tail also sends significant signs to humans. The tail’s motion can assist humans in deciphering a pet’s body language and determining what form of contact is suitable for that canine. As a result, the tail significantly impacts public safety and health.

Eliminating a dog’s tail makes it more difficult for them to communicate effectively, making them more prone to misinterpretation by people and other dogs. It can also put them in a social disadvantage. As a result, tails should not be cropped for any purpose other than for medical reasons.

The Unethical Nature Of Tail Cropping

The ethical aspect of cutting off a dog’s tail is a source of many debates and concerns. In reality, the act of tail docking has been outlawed in 40 countries. Although tail docking isn’t prohibited in all areas of the UK, handlers are no longer permitted to enter their animals in dog shows if their dog’s tail has been docked. Many animal rights activists hail this decision as a positive beginning toward altering people’s minds about breeding practices and tail docking.

While the practice is permitted in the United States, the American Veterinary Medical Association opposes it because of the dangers and potential problems that come with it. The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons in the United Kingdom has also condemned the method, calling it “unethical and unjustified mutilation.”

Infection, cerebrospinal fluid leakage, tumors, and death can occur due to tail docking. Furthermore, tail docking could be extremely painful for a young puppy. Would you want to put your pug through this? I would hope not!

Although some professionals claim that neonatal pups lack a fully formed neural system, there is ample evidence that debunk this train of thought. As already mentioned, when pups have their tailed docked, they frequently scream and cry, leading some specialists to conclude that they’re more sensitive to pain than bigger dogs.

Tail docking is prohibited in many nations throughout the world and much of Europe. Though it’s still legal in most parts of the US, it is however seen as an unethical and unnecessary practice when compared to the past. In saying that, we are heading towards the right direction as a society.

Most veterinarians and other healthcare professionals associations are against tail docking. These days, it’s not uncommon to see breeds like the Rottweiler or Australian Shepherd with a naturally long tail.

Final Thoughts: Should I Dock My Pug’s Tail?

Finally, you must evaluate if tail docking is appropriate for your pug or not. Some pet owners enjoy the concept since it might assist them in keeping their pets tidy. Others want the dog to follow breed standards, either for personal reasons or to compete in dog shows.

You must be aware that docking the dog’s tail can have negative consequences. This cosmetic procedure’s treatment has resulted in severe damage and can even lead to death. Furthermore, tail docking could cause unnecessary agony to your newborn dog. Keep in mind that dogs might have a tougher time understanding the emotional condition and intents of an animal whose tail is docked because canines use the tails to transmit a great deal of information.

Tail docking has a long and odd history, replete with dubious beliefs and pseudoscientific arguments. Still, tail docking is allowed in the United States at writing, and the AKC even encourages it for some breeds.

However, many countries in the world have outlawed the activity. If it hasn’t been recommended by a veterinarian for medical purposes, then I suggest avoid docking your pug’s tail.

Related Questions

What dog breeds get their tails docked? Doberman pinschers, rottweilers, spaniels, Yorkshire terriers, German shorthaired pointers, poodles, schnauzers, viszlas, Irish terriers, and airedale terriers are the most common breeds. It is not common practice to dock a pug’s tail.

Do any dogs have naturally docked tails? Yes, they include the French bulldog, Boston terrier, Welsh corgi, Australian stumpy tail cattle dog, Boston terriers, braque do bourbonnais, Brittany spaniel, and the English bulldog.


American Veterinary Medical Association, n.d. Canine Tail Docking FAQ.

Austwick, M., 2021. Do Pugs Have Tails?

Kane, K., n.d. Wagless Wonders: 7 Dog Breeds That Don’t Have Tails.

Kruzer, A., 2020. Can You Dock the Tail of an Adult Dog?

RSPCA, 2019. What are the animal welfare issues with docking dogs’ tails?

The British Association for Shooting & Conservation, n.d. Tail Docking.

WebMD, n.d. Ear Cropping and Tail Docking.

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